CHICAGO - December 2, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to allow the upcoming special general election to fill the 2nd Congressional District seat formerly held by Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., to coincide with previously scheduled local elections on April 9, 2013. The new law will save taxpayer dollars and empower voters as they elect a new representative to the 113th Congress. The governor proposed the change last week, and lawmakers passed legislation including the proposal during the recent veto session.
“I want to thank the General Assembly for acting swiftly to ensure that this special election is fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law will save taxpayer dollars and help encourage greater participation on Election Day as voters choose their next leader to represent Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District.”
The new legislation ensures that both the special general election and special primary election for the 2nd District seat will take place on days when local elections are already being held, allowing for substantial taxpayer savings. Under previous law, the governor was required to issue writs of election within five days of a congressional resignation, setting a special election within 115 days of the writs being issued. In the case of the 2nd Congressional District seat, that timing made it impossible to set the special general election for April 9, the date for which local general elections were already scheduled.
Senate Bill 3338, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), modifies the 115-day timing requirement to allow the 2013 special general election to coincide with previously scheduled local general elections set for April 9, 2013. Last week, Governor Quinn set the special primary election for February 26, 2013 to coincide with a day on which polls were already set to be open for local primaries in many of the 2nd Congressional District’s county precincts. The governor will issue amended writs of election on Monday. Had this law not passed, holding a separate general election would have cost taxpayers an estimated $2.5 million, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The 2nd Congressional District is comprised of 263 precincts in suburban Cook County, 169 precincts in Chicago, 85 precincts in Kankakee County and 27 precincts in Will County. Approximately 420,000 registered voters reside in the district, of which more than half are in suburban Cook County.
In addition, Senate Bill 3338 also makes a change to election law that gives candidates more time to file petitions for the 2013 consolidated election and provides local governments more flexibility to accept petitions. Previously, the final date to submit petitions fell on December 24, 2012. While Christmas Eve is not a state holiday, some local election authorities are traditionally closed, potentially hindering timely petition filing or resulting in additional unplanned expenses to local authorities. The new law increases efficiency and reduces costs by extending the final date to file petitions to December 26, 2012.